Best and Worst from MLS Week 21: Chris Rolfe, Twitter Beef and More
Goals were at a premium in MLS Week 21, and so was decent officiating. Just ask Real Salt Lake.
The Seattle Sounders and Colorado Rapids opened a mundane afternoon with a 1-1 draw at CenturyLink Field. The Portland Timbers and Philadelphia Union carried that momentum into the evening with a scoreless draw at PPL Park.
It's not hard to imagine, but some tough competition kept all four clubs from making the list of best and worst from MLS Week 21.
Read on to find out why.
Best: Chris Rolfe's Clinical Finish
The MLS Goal of the Week won’t be hard to identify in Week 21.
There weren’t that many to begin with.
But even if there were, few would be able to live up to Chris Rolfe’s clinical finish in Saturday’s 4-1 victory over DC United.
After consecutive losses, the Chicago Fire were dominant from the opening whistle. It took all of 114 seconds for the club to open a 1-0 lead over DC.
A perfectly placed cross from midfielder Joel Lindpere found the feet of Chris Rolfe inside the area. A one-time finish screamed past goalkeeper Joe Willis and tickled the back of the net with ease.
It was his third goal of the season.
Lindpere would find a goal of his own just nine minutes later. Rolfe completed his brace with a clever chip in the closing seconds of the first half. The goal gave the Fire a 3-0 lead entering the half. Just for giggles, Mike Magee added his 12th goal of the season from the spot to give Chicago a comprehensive 4-0 lead.
Talk about a complete performance.
With a strike like that, it's unfortunate that Silva wasn't around for the previous 400-plus minutes.
Congratulations, DC. It’s Week 21. You’re now only one strike away from reaching double-digit goals this season.
Worst: An Uninspired Performance North of the Border
Not all draws are created equal. In fact, some are just downright painful to watch.
That was the case when the New York Red Bulls and Toronto FC played to a scoreless draw on Saturday.
New York entered BMO Field with an opportunity to temporarily capture first place in the Eastern Conference. What the club walked away with was a disjointed, uninspired performance against one of the league’s bottom-dwellers.
That was it for New York.
The Red Bulls had zero shots on goal for the remaining 86 minutes.
The draw continued a roller coaster of results for New York. The club has failed to put together a winning streak of any kind since May. According to Empire of Soccer, head coach Mike Petke continues to be puzzled with his team’s performance:
It’s bittersweet because we’re angry not to take three points, but by the way we played we are fortunate to get a point here. Going into a huge game next week at home, coming off a 4-0 thrashing of Montreal firing on all cylinders, then to come here and play like this I am honestly confused.
Don’t worry, Mike. This flat performance confused us all.
Best: Late-Game Heroics from the Revolution
A total of four draws were played in Week 21.
Thanks to Jose Goncalves and Diego Fagundez, the battle between the New England Revolution and Columbus Crew wasn’t one of them.
The two appeared to be destined for a scoreless draw entering stoppage time. A disjointed effort from both sides highlighted 90 minutes of action. A wasteful attempt from Chris Tierney in the 23rd minute captured that display.
Then, lightning struck.
Poor set-piece defending from the Crew gave Goncalves the opportunity to head home the game-winner in the first minute of stoppage time.
Fagundez added his sixth goal of the season just two minutes later.
A sloppy turnover from Chad Marshall gave Lee Nguyen an open space to create. A slotted pass to Fagundez sealed the 2-0 victory for the Revolution.
For New England, the victory leaves the club two points out of the playoff picture. As for Columbus, the defeat drops the club to eighth in the Eastern Conference.
Worst: Two Clubs Still Falling from the Top
So, what happens when a stoppable force meets a moveable object? Nothing.
Wasted chances. Zero goals. At best, maybe a decent save here and there.
Both the Montreal Impact and FC Dallas entered Week 21 in desperate need of three points. Montreal were winless in their last four. Dallas’ streak was no better at seven. After a scoreless draw on Saturday, both teams left Saputo Stadium still in search of answers.
Despite having a lion’s share of the possession (61.5 percent) and a majority of the chances (15 attempts on goal), the Impact failed to get the best of goalkeeper Raul Fernandez. Even when they did, the crossbar was there to deny them.
The absence of Marco Di Vaio—who was away in Italy dealing with family matters—was felt.
Both teams will now have to wait an extra week before returning to the win column.
Just don't hold your breath.
Best: Young Guns Light Up the StubHub Center
Camilo Sanvezzo scored...again.
The Brazilian footballer now sits atop the MLS Golden Boot race with 13 goals. But it was a pair of young guns that stole the show at the StubHub Center on Saturday.
Goals from Jose Villarreal and Gyasi Zardes propelled the Los Angeles Galaxy to a 2-1 victory over the Vancouver Whitecaps. The win put an end to Vancouver’s six-game unbeaten streak. But for Los Angeles, the win also kept the club within striking distance of the Supporters’ Shield.
The club now sits four points behind Real Salt Lake’s pace.
For Zardes, his goal in the 57th minute was his first since his game-winner against Chivas USA in Week 17. You’ll have to date yourself further in order to find a contribution from Villarreal. His goal in the 29th minute was his first since Week 5.
Who can forget his dramatic, half-bicycle equalizer against Toronto FC at BMO Field?
With Landon Donovan still away at the Gold Cup, both of these young guns must continue to produce for head coach Bruce Arena.
Don’t ever ask Steve Nash what he’s doing at a Whitecaps match. Unless, of course, you want to be embarrassed on television.
Worst: Chaos at Rio Tinto Stadium
A red card, a howler, hooliganism, poor arithmetic and a Twitter beef.
Just another typical night at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Sporting Kansas City did indeed defeat Real Salt Lake 2-1 on Saturday, but the match was not devoid of chaotic controversy.
A chippy affair led to some rash comments from RSL’s official Twitter account in the first half. The tweet immediately prompted a response from SKC’s official Twitter account. What ensued was a petulant, back-and-forth display reminiscent of high school drama.
The action continued in the second half.
An absolute howler from goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen opened the affair and gave RSL a 1-0 lead. A second yellow for Chris Wingert—and a harsh one at that—gave Sporting a man advantage in the 66th minute. The team would capitalize a minute later with a half bicycle from forward Soony Saad.
Then, the real fun began.
Referee Matthew Foerster—an inexperienced 31-year-old referee—called for five minutes of stoppage time.
The match should’ve ended with Aaron Maund’s clearance in the sixth minute of stoppage time. But Foerster allowed the two to play on...and on...and on...and on.
A full 75 seconds later, Ike Opara struck the game-winning header.
Fans at Rio Tinto Stadium responded by striking the pitch with trash.
Unfortunately, what was supposed to be a battle between conference leaders ended as a regrettable night for MLS.
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